After the news that he would no longer be a Ducati rider in 2022, Scott Redding took his Aruba Racing V4R to a clear win in Race One at the modern, hot, bumpy and intense Navarra Circuit, his second race win in succession after his Race Two victory at Most last time out.
The heat appeared to help him, which he acknowledged from the media scrum, drenched in sweat and smiles.
“I felt good,” he said, “ I know after Jerez in hot conditions I can be strong, which is important because a few times in my career I blacked out and I had to enter the pits.
“So, I’ve made a big progression with this over my career and now I can win in the hottest conditions, which means a lot to me because it’s something I really struggled with and I managed to make a good improvement.
“Out there riding now, I felt comfortable, is probably the word. Not perfect. It was moving. It was sliding.”
Even the recent issues with Ducatis getting off the line cleanly were dealt with well and Redding even beat Superpole winner Rea to the first corner.
“I got an amazing start,” said Redding. “To beat Johnny off the line was impressive. I was already smiling going into Turn One. Then I was a little bit timid because it was hot and slimy. The warmup lap had felt not great, so I took it easy.
“Johnny came past. I expected it. He’s always faster first laps. Then I stayed calm, looked a little bit to see where he was strong, where he was weak a few laps. Then I saw him start to struggle a bit. I give him one more lap, struggle again, bam! I made the move.
"Then I didn’t push really hard when I was in front. I just wanted to get in my rhythm but without over-riding. I knew he was there but then I put .3, .4. I was like, it means that he’s not really on my wheel. So I felt comfortable like Toprak in Most. I felt okay with that gap. Then I stepped it up a little bit, I felt good and the gap got bigger.”
Redding was aided by Rea running wide twice, losing time on each occasion - but the package of Redding, Ducati and harder front tyre choice won out.
“I think he made a mistake, maybe because I pushed a little bit more,” said Redding about Rea’s ups and downs in the 23-lap furnace-like race. “Then I said, okay, this is nice. Then the gap went up again. I thought, this is nice. I was riding really relaxed, quite smooth, which was good because you don’t want to fight with the bike in this condition.
“I was just sliding around, but I had feeling. In this condition you have to have feeling, and I had that feeling which is important for me to be consistent. Just rode my own race. I almost crashed in the last corner. Went a little bit tight and I touched the curb. Then I got my rhythm again and I felt good.
“Not much to say. It was nothing crazy. For me, it was a nice race. Most? I was biting down on the gumshield, here, I at one point thought, why are they not catching me?”
Redding was unsure if his big build and extra kilos, compared to some smaller riders (his diminutive team-mate Michael Ruben Rinaldi was tenth today) helped him handle the serious bumps at Navarra. “I don't know. With the Ducati, it’s not the greatest bike on the handling side. We know it’s our weaker point, so the bumps are really aggressive for us. But it depends how you approach it. This is what makes the difference between the riders.
“It’s shit for everyone with the bumps, but the bumps aren’t going away, so you have to manage the best way possible. That was a good thing being out front and not having pressure. I could kind of do my own race. I could try a little bit here, a little bit there, a little mistake, come back… It was just fluid.
“It was a nice race. It would be nice if I could race like that all the time, but unfortunately I don't think that’s the case. Just happy. The bike was working great. The team has been great again.
“It’s nice to do this after the news and people say, “You’re not in it for Ducati.” I am. I want to win the championship for Ducati this year. That’s the only thing I want. They give the best, I give the best, and today we shown that we’re still there to do it and we can still win. So, really happy with that.”